Emirates Literature Foundation Blog (ELF)

The LitFest Generation: Mashal Waqar

By: Mashal Waqar

LitFest has always been an event close to my heart. For years, I’ve celebrated stories, storytellers, and the passion that brings the love of words and writing them at LitFest editions every year.

This year was slightly different, and magnanimously magical.  I got to be a moderator.

I moderated two different sessions- one with Muhammad Hanif, the witty author of A Case of Exploding Mangoes, and the other was one of my all-time favorites- Markus Zusak.

I’ve absolutely loved the Book Thief. In fact, I’ve gifted copies to close friends of mine over the years, because how can they not have read it? Not in my world. So, to be able to get have an intimate discussion about the book he’s poured his heart and soul into (Bridge of Clay), felt like a dream come true. Add in reading out loud a never-before read chapter from a book he’s currently writing, and I’ll add in bingo. That’s my job as a moderator, done.

On a different note, I really admire the LitFest’s commitment in nurturing and building regional talent. I got an opportunity to get media training, along with other moderators, and I’m extremely grateful for it. I’ve spoken at countless events over the last few years, and I have never seen events invest in building talent the way Litfest wholeheartedly has. I think that’s part of what makes this event magical. The team behind it. When you’re thinking of a whole ecosystem and you’re building it up, how can you not build an amazing experience?

And, of course you see the final product when you attend the events- there are months and months of work and effort by the team that’s part of it, the organizers, the volunteers, the staff, the moderators, and the hosts. Every individual has a part to play, and this year, as I got a more involved role at the event, I have a deeper appreciation for everything that goes on behind the scenes.

As I fondly think back to the festival’s week, and get a much-needed pause, from the turbulent times we’re going through right now. Magic. That’s the feeling I get, and it’s the feeling I hold on to.

Written by Mashal Waqar